Aberdeen Women’s captain Kelly Forrest will retire from football following Sunday’s final game of the season against Motherwell.
The 33-year-old has decided her eighth season with Aberdeen – across two spells – will be her last, citing factors including a niggling Achilles issue, slower recovery after games and training, and a desire to spend time on non-football pursuits.
Defender Forrest has helped spearhead the Dons’ rise back up the leagues since the team were fully integrated into the Pittodrie set-up in 2018.
The Reds Women earned back-to-back league titles ahead of securing a top-half finish on their first season back in SWPL 1 this term.
Another Aberdeen Women’s player, Carrie Doig, will also retire after Sunday’s season-ender.
Job done as Aberdeen back where they belong for Forrest
Forrest has been thinking about hanging up her boots “for a while”, but felt a sense of duty to help steer the team back to the top flight – after the old Aberdeen Ladies dropped down two levels.
She said: “We’ve obviously had the success of the back-to-back promotions and I felt it was a duty of mine as a player to get the club back to where Aberdeen should be.
“I always said to myself I wouldn’t abandon ship while we were down in the dumps slightly a couple of years back, so that was the timeline for me.
“As things have evolved it’s got a lot more positive and exciting, so it’s been not only a journey back to the top, but a journey I’ve thoroughly enjoyed
“But it’s been on my mind and I always said: Let’s just see how I feel when we get back to top-flight football, but I was never going to quit before then.
“This season I’ve been playing with a little bit of a recurring injury in my Achilles so it’s been difficult and I’ve found it a little bit frustrating.
“I did have it (in my mind) it would be one season in the top-flight. I feel like we deserved it as a team to stick together.”
Forrest is looking forward to her final bow with her team-mates in Motherwell on Sunday, adding: “I’m looking forward to Sunday. For me, it’s really important I get to spend time with the team and the coaches because that’s where all my memories are.
“I want to make sure Sunday’s a good day all round and go out with a win.”
Although she hopes to remain in football, planning on continuing to appear as a pundit on Aberdeen’s RedTV and could also turn her hand to coaching in the future, non-football matters are also on Forrest’s mind.
She said: “I’ve got other things in life I find just as exciting I’m probably not giving enough time. I think mentally for me as well I want to invest my time in something else.”
It’s an exciting time at Aberdeen Women – with five young players signing the club’s first paid women’s contracts last week – while the team have played in front of big crowds at both Pittodrie and Ibrox this season.
While veteran Forrest admits “you’d be lying if you didn’t say you wished you could start your career now” given the pace the game is developing, leading Emma Hunter and Gavin Beith’s Dons to fifth spot on the pitch this season has left her with cherished memories.
She said: “Playing at Pittodrie, getting the opportunity to play there, and equally at Ibrox – that return leg, as we called – was a really good experience.
“For me, as someone that’s been involved in women’s football for years, these things are huge. To see the turnout at the game at Pittodrie was incredible.
“It’s another rewarding thing to be a part of that.
“When I started it was a hobby for a lot of people, driven purely by passion for the game.
“The girls I play with now – their drive, ambition and desire to do well is so obvious, because of the opportunities that have been created by people in growing the game. “
Forrest is excited to see where her talented, young team-mates can go from here, saying: “The fact we’re training two nights a week and have managed to finish fifth, it’s scary to think what the girls could do next year with upping that training – which I believe is the case.
“I think the potential in the team is more than any other team with youth in the league.
“I’m proud we’ve managed to come up and do so well.”